Better Late Than Never? Spain’s El País Sounds Alarm Over Consequences of Ukraine “Proxy War” for EU’s Future

After enthusiastically selling the war since its inception, the mainstream media in Europe may be beginning to change its tune. 

As the undeniable failure of Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter offensive begins to sink in on the old continent, another crack in the media narrative around the conflict has appeared — and what’s more in one of Europe’s newspapers of record, Spain’s El País. On Monday, the newspaper published an op-ed (behind paywall) by José Luis Cebrián titled “Defending Ukraine to the Death… of Ukrainians.” The article raises serious concerns about the real objectives of the war, the way it is being waged and its impact on the European Union, much of which is encapsulated in the article’s sub-heading:

“The war is a proxy war between NATO and Russia that has roots that predate the invasion whose immediate consequence has been the subordination of the EU project to the objectives of the [NATO] military alliance.”

This one sentence makes three points that are hardly news to NC readers but may be to many loyal El País readers: first, what is happening in Ukraine is not a David versus Goliath struggle between an aggressive superpower and a small but plucky neighbour, as newspapers like El País have been claiming for the past year and a half, but rather a proxy war between the world’s two largest nuclear powers; second, its roots long predate Russia’s Special Military Operation of February 2022; and third, the EU project has essentially been subordinated to NATO’s military goals, which are essentially Washington’s military goals.

A Very Influential Man

Granted, the article is an opinion piece, meaning it does not reflect the newspaper’s official editorial line. But Cebrián is not your average contributing op-ed writer. He is the co-founder and honorary president of El País, as well as former CEO and chairman of Grupo Prisa, the Spanish media conglomerate that owns the newspaper. He is also vice president of the Asociación de Medios de Información, a Spanish media lobbying group. According to Wikipedia, “Cebrián has been considered by various international media as one of the ten most influential Spaniards in Spain and Latin America for 44 years (from 1976 to 2019).”

He is also, as Wikipedia notes, “the only Hispanic academic member of the Bilderberg Club and the only Spanish-speaking member with executive functions in that organisation.”

In other words, anything Cebrián writes in El País, the newspaper he helped create, holds weight. It also means that the message conveyed in this op-ed, which represents a stark departure from the prevailing media narrative of the last 18 months and is based on a speech Cebrián recently gave to the participants of a program organised by Madrid’s Complutense University and the Institute for Strategic Studies, comes from the very highest levels of Europe’s media establishment.

Now, a few choice excerpts (comments in brackets my own):

We are facing a transcendental issue for the future of Europe upon which the political class has avoided any debate in recent electoral campaigns, despite the implications for the security and development of our country.

In order to analyse the effects of the war, it is necessary to look at its causes (NC: what a smart idea!! If only El País and other influential media had done this 18 months ago!), both the deep-rooted and the more recent ones. I began (my speech) by evoking John L. O’Sullivan, an American journalist who in 1845 proclaimed the “manifest destiny” of the as yet inexistent US empire. Said destiny was to spread throughout the continent, “allotted by providence for the development of a great experiment in freedom and self-government.” This is how he justified the annexation of Texas, Oregon and California, before the United States seized more than 50% of the territory of Mexico and intervened in the Cuban and Philippine revolutions against the Spanish crown.

After describing the westward expansion of the fledgling United States and the early spasms of the US empire, Cebrián proceeds to plot the US’ passage through two world wars, for which, he says, Western Europe owes “the people and government of the United States” a “debt of gratitude.” But he also discusses the US’s many military misadventures, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, to Iraq, Libya and Sudan, and their heavy toll, including 500,000 deaths in Iraq alone.

Mackinder and Brzezinski

After that, Cebrián brings in Halford Mackinder’s World Island theory — the idea that “whoever rules the continental heartland (of Eurasia) controls the World Island, and whoever rules the World Island controls the world.” He then recounts how the former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski used that theory to push for NATO expansion right up to the borders of the newly formed Russian Federation. Most controversially, the plan included incorporating the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia into the military alliance (two glaring red lines for Russia’s political and military establishment):

 [Brzezinski] recognised that Russian public opinion and broad segments of Ukrainian society considered the shared origin, and therefore destiny, of both countries inviolable. Against this backdrop, there was at least one verbal agreement between the United States and Moscow that guaranteed that Kiev would not join the Alliance, as an unwritten condition for prompt German reunification.* Brzezinski argued that the new European security framework should be based on a close alliance between France, Germany, Poland (his native country) and Ukraine. That would be the way to dominate the heart of Eurasia and by extension control the world. This is the path we are on…

In 2013, the White House sponsored the Euromaidan coup and popular revolution against the pro-Russian Ukrainian president. Moscow’s response was to invade Crimea in 2014. That same year Jens Stoltenberg was appointed Secretary General of NATO, who has pursued out an opportunistic policy of publicly arguing for cooperation with Russia while deploying forces in the countries of central Europe, despite concerns, flagged by Kissinger among others, that no government in the Kremlin would allow the installation of potentially offensive bases 300 kilometres from Moscow.

Russia, A Country in Decline

Russia, Cebrián then says, is a country “in decline,” with a shrinking population and gross domestic product, before adding that “it remains the world’s leading nuclear power.” This is a bizarre statement given that Russia’s autarkic economy has weathered 18 months of all-out war against it from both the US, the world’s [declining] economic superpower and the EU. It also just overtook Germany to become the fifth wealthiest economy in the world and the largest in Europe on PPP (purchasing power parity) terms.

This, I suppose, goes to show that even as Europe’s elite begins recrafting a new narrative around the Ukraine war — which is beginning to happen as that same elite finally realises that Ukraine has zero chance of recapturing its lost territory while the damage to Europe’s economic health continues to mount — they will continue to downplay Russia’s strengths. The fact that Russia’s largely autarkic economy has withstood all 11 rounds of EU sanctions against it far better than the EU’s own economy is by the by.

In fact, at no point in his article does Cebrián mention the Spanish word “economia,” which is curious for an article on the escalating costs of the Ukraine conflict. By contrast, he mentions the name “Kissinger” twice — perhaps not much of a surprise condsidering Henry Kissinger is one of the most senior members of the Bilderberg Club. He’s certainly the oldest:

As Kissinger himself says in his book on leadership, the war in Ukraine embodies the failure of previous attempts at dialogue by the main parties, which are not Kiev and Moscow, but the White House and the Kremlin.

So here we have the first admission, in the main body of the text, that the war in Ukraine is not a war between Ukraine and Russia but instead a proxy war between the White House and the Kremlin. Which brings us to the article’s conclusion:

The immediate consequence of this war has been the subordination of the European Union, a project of peace and cooperation through laws, to a military alliance. So that countries with deep democratic imbalances such as Hungary or Poland are accepted and even flattered by the West, just as the White House seems determined to whitewash even the tyrannical regime of Venezuela [NC: a not-so-subtle reminder of how much Spain’s political and business establishment despise the Bolivarian government in Caracas]. The prolongation of the war has had other effects, such as the creation of a triangle between formerly warring states, Iran, China and Russia, two of them nuclear powers. It has also strengthened the role of Turkey, the Alliance’s founding member, which can hardly be described as a democracy and which does not apply sanctions to the aggressor country.

This is not a war between Russia and Ukraine, but a proxy war between NATO and Russia. Neither of them can be absolute losers if we aspire to a lasting peace in Europe and want to prevent the conflict from spiralling into a third world war. But the voices in favour of a ceasefire do not seem to have much effect on the rulers of democratic Europe, ours included, ready as they are to defend Ukraine until the death of the last Ukrainian.

“Deconstructing Zelensky”

Cebrián’s article came just days after El Diaro, a left-leaning online news outlet published an interesting op-ed titled “Deconstructing Zelensky”. While I have not read much of El Diario‘s recent coverage of the Ukraine conflict, but looking back at the backlog of article headlines on the topic, this op-ed also appears to represent a departure of sorts.

The article, penned by José Enrique de Ayala, a retired brigadier general of the Spanish army who was second in command of the multinational division of central-south Iraq, which was supported by NATO, does a thorough job of deconstructing Zelensky. A few days before publishing the piece on Zelensky, El Diaro published a similar article by the same author on Putin, titled “Deconstructing Putin.” Though it gets some important things wrong, such as the idea, repeatedly debunked here, that Minsk 2 offered a possible solution to the conflict in the Donbass, it is reasonably measured given the subject matter.

De Ayala is currently a member of the European Council of Foreign Relations and the Security and Defence Council of Fundación Alternativas, a Spanish think tank, as well as an opinion writer for El Diario and El País. In his article on Ukraine’s president, he offers a rare glimpse of some of the darker sides of the Zelensky story.

On corruption:

The key to the [election] campaign that swept Zelensky into power was the fight against corruption and the oligarchs… Yet he has never been able to shake off his ties to Kolomoiski, one of the most corrupt oligarchs in Ukraine. In fact, one of his first decisions [as president] was to appoint the magnate’s lawyer, Andriy Bohdan, as head of the Presidential Administration. In October 2021, the Pandora Papers investigation revealed that Zelensky, his first assistant and Kvartal95 co-founder Sherhiy Shefir, and the head of the Ukrainian Security Service and Zelensky’s childhood friend, Ivan Bakanov, controlled a network of offshore companies in tax havens that owned valuable property in London.

On the war:

When the invasion began, Zelensky appealed for support from NATO, which was already arming and training Ukraine’s army and which gave it to him in abundance. As of the end of May, Ukraine had received more than $85 billion in military aid and the same amount in financial and humanitarian aid, which has allowed Ukraine to resist and Zelensky to stay in power. But the Ukrainian president must know that the main objective of this enormous effort, rather than the defence of Ukraine, is to weaken Russia, and that he must submit to the decisions made by his backers.

The first sign of this subservience came less than a month into the war. In March, Moscow and Kiev undertook several rounds of negotiations in Belarus and finally a meeting of the foreign ministers in Turkey. Some preliminary agreements were reached, notably regarding Ukraine’s neutrality and the withdrawal of Russian forces to their pre-invasion positions, though the territorial question was still left open. Zelensky himself declared on March 15 that Ukraine would not be a member of NATO. But in early April, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kiev and said publicly that Putin should be pressured, not negotiated with, which brought an end to the negotiations that could have brought an end to the war. The then-Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, who mediated between the two parties, declared in February of this year, in a televised interview (it’s on YouTube), that Western countries blocked the peace agreement…

Zelensky cannot be blamed for defending the independence and integrity of his country with all the means at his disposal. But a responsible political leader has to think about the price that must be paid, especially if there is any possibility of negotiating a just peace…

Unfortunately, de Alaya regurgitates claims originally peddled by the New York Times and German media that Ukraine was behind the sabotage of the Nordstream pipelines. Yves debunked this “intelligence-insulting” story at the time. De Alaya also mentions the possibility that Ukraine was behind the recent bombing of the Nova Kajovka dam, which offers a more plausible plot line:

Neither the US, nor the UK, nor France have directly accused Moscow, which they undoubtedly would have done if they thought it was responsible. A few days after the catastrophe, the spokesman for the US National Security Council, retired Admiral John Kirby, told a press conference that they were working with the Ukrainian government to obtain more information, and that they had not reached any conclusion. After that… crickets. Presumably if they had found any proof or evidence against Russia, it would have been on all the front covers. All possibilities remain open in this case, including an accidental rupture due to structural damage from the fighting, but the radio silence from intelligence services and Western governments makes Ukraine the more likely author.

To his credit, De Alaya ventures into territory that most journalists, columnists and op-ed writers in the West dare not (or at least not just yet) in outlining the Zelensky government’s constant attacks on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, some of which predated Russia’s SMO:

Since the start of the Russian invasion, Zelensky has banned all males between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country. There is no conscientious objection, most men are recruited and sent to the front, whether they want to fight or not… In March 2022, he suspended the activity of 11 political parties… without recourse to law or providing any evidence that they had ties to Moscow… In December 2022, the Ukrainian president signed a media law that was widely criticised by the Union of Journalists of Ukraine for threatening freedom of expression. Under this law, which began to take form in 2019, long before the invasion, the National Broadcasting Council, made up mostly of Zelensky lackeys and the Ukrainian Parliament, currently dominated by the president’s party, can censor TV broadcasters, the press and online journalism, as well as social networks and search engines such as Google.

On Ukraine’s Nazis:

[Zelensky] has tolerated and tolerates Nazis in his country and in his armed and security forces, though it is difficult to say if he did so out of conviction or because he cannot do otherwise. For example, the emblem of the Azov Battalion (now the Brigade) represents the mirror image of the wolfsangel rune taken from the emblem of the 2nd SS Das Reich Division, a Nazi unit that caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainians, particularly Jews, during World War II. There are more units in Ukraine of similar ideology: the Aidar, Donbass and other battalions.

Lastly, de Alaya also explains how the Zelensky brand is largely the creation of Western intelligence services, mainly from the US and UK:

The Ukrainian president has been glorified and sanctified through the tenacious propaganda of the Western intelligence services — mainly the Anglos’ — which has been widely repeated by the vast majority of the media… They have been at it since long before the invasion began, at least since they openly supported the anti-Russian Maidan coup, when Victoria Nuland – then US under-secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs and today acting deputy secretary of state in the Biden Administration — said, in a conversation with the US ambassador to Ukraine: “Fuck the EU”. Zelensky did not exist as a political player at that point. But when he did appear, he was a godsend. Who better than an actor to play the hero – military shirt, unkempt beard, dark circles around the eyes – to… arouse [public] empathy and, with it, the uncritical support of Western citizens for a campaign that goes far beyond this war.

Most of this, of course, is not news to regular NC readers and the commentariat, but the fact that it is being published in a news outlet like El Diario, which has, until now, largely hewed to the official line on the Ukraine war, is news. Even more newsworthy is the fact that José Luis Cebrián, one of Spain’s most influential figures, not only in the media but also in politics and business, is sounding the alarm about the dire consequences of the Ukraine proxy war for the EU, as well as the fact that most European politicians don’t seem to care. Unfortunately, it’s 18 months too late and much of the damage has already been done.


* This is a major understatement on Cebrián’s part. The unspoken agreement to which he refers held that NATO would not absorb any of the former Warsaw Pact countries (apart from East Germany, of course) or the former Soviet republics. As readers well know, then-US Secretary of State James Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not move a single inch to the East following German reunification. Instead, it has moved 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) in that direction.


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  1. John R Moffett

    The cracks begin to appear in the facade. I have always wondered why the wealthy business types in Europe have not been squealing about the sanctions and the loss of cheap energy. I assumed that they had been fed a boatload of lies about how weak Russia was and that it would all end magnificently and quickly. But now they are stuck in the current situation with few ways out. NATO has them by the throat and isn’t going to let go. I wonder if it is dawning on the wealthy elites in Europe that NATO is a US invention whose sole purpose is to keep Germany down, Russia out and the US in. Maybe they should have studied their history lessons a bit better.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Presuming rationality, fear of not being on the winning side drove everything. Every Euro politico lined up with Joe Biden of all people. How could Ukraine lose with that kind of support? Stingers were being sent. Bin Laden drove the USSR out of Afghanistan with stingers. Anyone not in line will be boycotted and ostracized for defying Zelensky and Biden. Once things turned, can you imagine trying to explain blind loyalty to Zelensky and Biden.

      1. panurge

        I still don’t get it. It was not an unexpected or out of the blue outcome. Ukraine got her ass handed to her already once in 2014. Did the european biz intelligentsja disregard the precedent? Sure, at the time on one side there were no western wunderwaffen and on the other side there was “only the local guerrilla” instead of the Russian army, but still…

        1. tegnost

          It could simply be that the western banksters successfully took over their own economies with their overweening greed and essentially control fraud because who could stop them. The same outcome was expected as western banks and corps had full coffers from fleecing their own countries and thought they could just buy a win, sovereignty in their eyes not being the true force that naked self interest is in the halls of power in the west?.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m using “rationally” somewhat loosely. These people are still fairly ignorant and live in 1996. Then when I use the phrase rationale, I’m not counting the kinds who agree with a Borrell and his garden versus jungle views. Those people aren’t rationale and simply expected a whiter group to defeat the horde once armed with the purity of white.

          Just because they are in business doesn’t mean they are rationale.

      2. hk

        More than one person suggested that Russia benefited by being “weaker” than what some Westerners thought: stuff like Stingers and Javelins are weapons of guerilla warfare, for ambushes and the like, and they were sent by thousands long before the actual war began. If, as some Western commentators claimed, Russia did overpower Ukraine in weeks, a guerilla war would have ensued and those weapons would have been much more effective. But that didn’t happen (something that would have been apparent to those who’d been watching the development of the Russian Army in the past 20 years). Russia sent far smaller army than was necessary to “overpower” Ukraine because Russian army was, at least compared to stereotypes, (and still is) quite small and far more reliant on professionals than Westerners think. They emphasize fighting smarter than harder now–something that eludes the West even now, it seems. But since Ukrainian Army stayed intact, NATO had to support them fighting a conventional war that it didn’t know how to fight itself.

        1. Louis Fyne

          “Russia sent far smaller army than was necessary to “overpower” Ukraine”

          we will never know until Putin and Shiogu write an autobiography….but it is reasonable to hypothesize that the intent of the Feb. 2022 invasion was analogous to the Soviet invasion of Kabul (Operation Storm-333): capture/decapitate the Zelensky government, have Kyiv sue for peace.

          In retrospect, there is reasonable public evidence that the operation was on the verge of success until NATO/DC announced unlimited support for Kyiv in April.

          Presumably, the uber-rational Kremlin didn’t envision a scenario in which DC-Brussels would choose Kyiv/Donbas as the proverbial “hill to die on”

          1. hk

            I’ll have to confess that the analogy always eluded me. Afghanistan in 1979 was, in theory, a government friendly to USSR. Hafizullah Amin, supposedly, was expecting that Soviets would come to his aid until his aide informed him that the presidential palace was being attacked by the Spetznaz who were nominally in Kabul to help protect Afghan leadership, at Amin’s own request (reinforced by the contingent that arrived just a few days before.). Amin was being treated, after the failed poisoning, by a Soviet Army doctor. So it was fairly easy to place the special forces in position for the actual assault, even if Amin’s guards turned out to be numerous and well armed. Kiev, on the other hand, was not only a large and hostile city, it was also fairly far in the middle of hostile territory. If, as Simplicius suggests, the whole Gostomel operation by the desantniks was to support the assault on Ukrainian leadership, that sounds pretty foolhardy and extremely risky. It sounds more like a more successful (but ultimately failed) Eagle Claw to me.

        2. Feral Finster

          I have no doubt that the West intended to use Ukrainians as cannon fodder for a guerilla war.

          I doubt that such a war would be successful. If you look at successful insurgencies in recent decades (Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Yemen and Afghanistan) one thing that they all have in common is a young population. Guerilla war is a young man’s game, and the median age in Yemen in something like 19 years old.

          The median age in Ukraine was over 40, and that before the war.

      3. John R Moffett

        One thing that has fascinated me for a long time is the degree to which many people at various rungs on the hierarchy ladder seem to believe the obvious lies they are spouting in public. I have always assumed they are just outright lying, but after reading Daniel Ellsberg’s book “Secrets” I realize that many people in the government and big business are as propagandized and clueless as the voters. Ellsberg makes it very clear how the secrecy machine works and how it keeps most people completely in the dark about what is happening, and what has happened in the past. This includes many people with “above top secret” clearance as even they only have limited access to a limited amount of material.

        So you can be sure that the top people in the intelligence agencies, and some top people in the administration know much of what has and is transpiring, but most of them don’t have a clue. Information is highly compartmentalized and most people only get fragmentary snippets. Just enough to get themselves and the country into even more trouble.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          In the case of all but the most self-aware sociopaths, those people wouldn’t be in those positions if they hadn’t already been groomed and vetted for mindless conformity, over years in formative settings.

      4. digi_owl

        It was not so much that Ukraine would win, but that it would hold out enough for the Russian people (oligarchs) to coup Putin.

        Then Nuland et al would come in with their carving knives and divide Russian into a thousand pieces.

        Instead Russia hunkered down, switched to domestic substitutes and went on with their lives.

    2. Clueless Joe

      The top businessmen angle is definitely the one I’ll never understand about this war and the sanctions.
      To be blunt, had I been the head of Germany’s CEOs association, I would either have put a contract on the heads of Scholz and Baerbock and let the mob do its job, or approached the top generals to actually stage a coup and remove these suicidal fools. That there barely was any public protest, or even hint of a protest on their part, is a major indictment of their incompetence.

      1. John k

        Yes, I’ve thought that, too.
        But maybe, as others in this thread suggest, if many above top secret have been snowed, maybe others in business and the press really didnt know, just printing what Ukraine/cia puts out. Though, that west reporters who actually went there and reported what they see are threatened with jail seems odd unless the threatened were aware of reality.
        But also people believe what the want to believe. There were expectations that the sanctions would destroy Russia and once again open it up for massive looting by the west, including permanent access to even cheaper energy. Dreams of sugarplums danced in their heads. The widely shared assumption that Russia had not fundamentally changed from the 90’s under yeltsin proved optimistic.
        I read yesterday (NC?) that a survey (I think us) show putin is favorably viewed by quite a few westerners in spite of msm casting him as an unholy mix of hitler and the devil. And msm is now held in very low esteem, implying to me reality has been leaking in.

    3. Mikel

      The cracks are appearing right when I thought: as the US wants to increase the squeeze on China.

      Note: China doesn’t appear to be mentioned in the articles.

    4. HenryCT

      Thanks for concise reference to history that predates the formal “Full Spectrum Dominance.”

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    The question is do the regime change Karens care beyond virtue signaling. If they don’t, I’m sure Euros will try to line up for Russian gas, but then again, Moscow has made new deals. The author still isn’t an elected type.

    The amount the electeds discussing being associated with the deaths of 50,000 in a few weeks on a charge of the light brigade is probably reaching a fever pitch.

    1. panurge

      It remind me when Macron at the end of 2019 said NATO was becoming a dead-weight.

      Skip COVID interlude, then a convenient war erupted in Europe just in time to reassert control over unruly vassals.

      1. Irrational

        Macron is just a weather vane, changes his opinion as the wind blows – at least that is how it seems to me.

        1. panurge

          Indeed! Exactly for that reason both articles look similar. Neither Macron at the time, nor Sarkozy yesterday are speaking for themselves. They are merely conveying the “dissatisfaction” of a part of the elite.

        2. hk

          Better weather vanes than crazy fanatics. I’ve always thought that the key virtue of a working “democracy” is that it is run by weather vanes–people who can sense when there is a big discontent building and change course to avoid crises–not because it has some kind of moral qualities or something. We could actually use more and better weather vanes everywhere in the West.

  3. fjallstrom

    Thank you, very interesting.

    It seems that the quote paragraph starting with “In order to analyse” and in part of the last quoted paragraph the sentence “acting deputy secretary of state in the Biden Administration” are in a larger font. Maybe some style elements tagged along with copy-> paste ?

  4. Russell Davies

    What always seems to be glossed over when Mackinder’s saying is quoted is the first line: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland.” What’s important about this is that Mackinder’s concept of East Europe is of a landmass east of a line that runs from the Adriatic to the North Sea and west of a line that effectively runs along the Volga and Don rivers to the Black Sea. This means that Berlin and Vienna were the two major capitals to the west, with Moscow and St Petersburg being the major conurbations to the east; Mackinder had it that the vast majority of Russians lived around these latter two cities and, therefore, lived in East Europe.

    It is this East Europe that is the gateway to the Heartland and it was always necessary for West Europe – insular and peninsular – to oppose any power that attempted to dominate East Europe and, thereby, the Heartland. Britain fought “the half-German Russian Czardom because Russia was the dominating, threatening force both in East Europe and the Heartland for half a century”. Equally Britain was “opposed to the wholly German Kaiserdom, because Germany took the lead in East Europe from the Czardom, and would then have crushed the revolting Slavs, and dominated East Europe and the Heartland”.

    This quote from Mackinder receives its echo in the US’s ‘National Security Strategy’ of 1988: the “United States’ most basic national security interests would be endangered if a hostile state or group of states were to dominate the Eurasian landmass – that area of the globe often referred to as the world’s heartland. We fought two world wars to prevent this from occurring. And, since 1945, we have sought to prevent the Soviet Union from capitalizing on its geostrategic advantage to dominate its neighbors in Western Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and thereby fundamentally alter the global balance of power to our disadvantage”.

    George Friedman, a member of the Washington foreign policy establishment, founder and former CEO of Stratfor, and founder and current chairman of Geopolitical Futures, speaking in 2015, brings us almost up to date; the main “interest of the United States over which for centuries we have fought wars, the first, second and cold war has been the relationship between Germany and Russia. Because united they are the only force that could threaten us”. The primordial fear for the US is “German technology and German capital, Russian natural resources and Russian manpower as the only combination that has for centuries scared the hell out of the United States”.

    Of course, Michael Hudson has been writing for over a year now that the US proxy war in Ukraine is just as much a war against Germany. It is another episode of the long-running Anglo – now Anglo-American – series of keeping Russia and Germany apart.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘German technology and German capital, Russian natural resources and Russian manpower as the only combination that has for centuries scared the hell out of the United States’

      Fortunately over the past decade, Washington has been able to successfully spike that combination for perhaps a generation or more. So now, they only have to worry about Russian technology and Russian resources combined with Chinese industrial output and Chinese manpower. I shake my head when I write that. A German-Russian combination they might have been able to influence. But forcing a Russian-Chinese combination while at the same time have the US be a common enemy of both is, well, breathtakingly stupid. This will certainly be for the history books as the worst possible foreign policy decision that the US ever made. You pick fights with Russia in Europe and China in Asia and you know what you get? A two-front war. Historically that is never a good idea.

      1. Synoia

        Just to emphasize: Two front war for the US, single front for both Russia and China.

        Is that am application for the a Darwin award?

    2. Louis Fyne

      Much like the “observer effect” in quantum physics (merely watching something changes the outcome)….there is a “heartland effect”: the actions taken by DC to get a Atlantic-dominated “Heartland” is creating an anti-Atlantic Heartland.

      Russia and China have as many reasons to be enemies (frenemies) as well as allies. Historically inter-Russian-Chinese contacts have been minimal (just look at the paucity of border towns along the Russian-Chinese border).

      But the rational consequence of pretty much every action taken by DC since 1989 has driven Russia and China together: they have a common objective (stopping US regime changes), common obstacles (US dollar weaponization), common goals (maintaining national sovereignty in a post-Westphalian, transnational globe).

      1. Kouros

        The border between Russia and China is the Wild East for Russia and the wild Northwest for China. Why would you expect many big cities there?

        However, a big bridge over Aumur River opened recently allowing for trains and cars to go between.

    3. digi_owl

      Not that as long as that heartland is in turmoil, world trade happens by ship.

      And who was/is the dominant sea power? then UK and now USA.

      A resurgent, mechanized, silk road would turn USA from a center to a periphery.

      1. some guy

        If enough Americans would start calling themselves ” American Okayness Ordinarians” to the point where ” American Okayness Ordinarianism” becomes a recognized thing, then perhaps the American Okayness Ordinarians can recruit enough more Americans to American Okayness Ordinarianism to broach the subject of the pleasures of peripherality.

        1. juno mas

          I think it is the numbers (population) that will put Americans on the periphery. The Europeans have found that out forthwith. The 2 billion in China have replaced the oil/gas/food that Russia once sold to the West (Europe).

  5. john

    The vast amounts of money made off conflict by the huge defense contractors, mostly american, and the power that this money stream creates, simply overwhelms reason, and so, conflicts continue, conflicts are created, and everyone is put at risk. It should be noted that both Lockheed and General Dynamics teetered toward bankruptcy in the early 70’s and needed government life support to continue. Decisions that most probably went against majority US public opinion.

  6. Alan Roxdale

    I remain skeptical that the neocons are going to let this one go, or that the reigns of power will be taken from them. More likely we will see an escalation that will sustain the war for a few more years. Since Ukraine is now exhausted — borderline ethnically cleansed — that means another country or two will need to be drafted into the Russian meat-grinder. The clear candidate for that is Poland. Some roundabout set of excuses involving Belarus or Moldova or the baltics or nuclear hysteria will be trotted out for ex-post facto justification for a few 100,000 Polish forces being deployed to the front lines.

    The wavering of the (never very reliable) western europeans makes this escalation all the more urgent. To stay in the driving seat, the neocons need to step on the gas. If the passengers start screaming, just turn up the radio.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      An escalation with what. The whole reason a no-fly zone didn’t happen was because the logistics are impossible.

      1. juno mas

        The escalation that US/Nato seems to be employing is greater technical/command control of the war: more NAT0/CIA personnel on the rear-ground and directing longer range missiles with greater accuracy (from satellite data) onto Russian ammo depots.

        Russia, of course, sees this and now sends Kinzhal missiles into these command centers deep in western Ukraine. I think the Russian army will be expanded and armed with newer weapons in the next few months and the Crush of Ukraine will occur.

        There is no solution to the neocons, other than total elimination of the “Borderlands”.

      2. JonnyJames

        True, escalation would mean nuclear confrontation. The imperialist nutcases (not just the “neocons”) in the State Dept. CFR, Atlantic Council, NATO, CIA etc. are crazy, but let’s hope not that crazy.

        That reminds me: It might be a good time to watch Dr. Strangelove again. Sellers was a genius

        1. some guy

          There is a whole group of what could be called “neowils” for neo-Wilsonians. Liberal imperial interventionists, “making the world safe for democracy” and other such self-flattering crusades.

          Plus the “R2P” community.

  7. Ignacio

    Mr. Corbishley. Thanks a lot for this. I subscribe every word on your thorough analysis. Then, what on it’s significance?

    IMO It Will probably depend on the ability of Sánchez to form a Government. If he is, Cebrian’s op-ed might sign a change of view from Spain and have an effect on EU policies and possibly NATO towards Ukraine signalling new fault lines in the EU not in favour of neocons. If they are the Conservatives who finally get to form a government (for instance after new elections) then It might not be consequential at all. I haven’t read any reaction on this on the conservative MSM. If i find something i Will let you know. It is Indeed remarkable this op-ed in El País, that has been following the oficial Western narrative to the letter. US Intelligence was one of the most often cited sources on this outlet when covering Ukraine, the Skripals, Russia meddling in Western democracies… the full pack. NC stands for Naked Capitalism or for Nick Corbishley, hahaha!

    1. Ignacio

      Regarding El País ownership. I think It is no longer Grupo Prisa who owns the outlet but some American-French investment vehicle. Alternatively, such “vehicle” is the true owner of Grupo Prisa. Not sure. Yet Cebrian, who for long was El País senior editor cannot be denied an op-ed there.

      1. Nick Corbishley Post author

        Yeah, I looked into that before writing this piece. El País still belongs to Grupo Prisa whose majority shareholder now is Amber Capital, a London-based investment fund owned by Joseph Oughourlian, a French entrepreneur and financier with Amerian and Lebanese roots. Here’s an interesting article from Libertad Digital about his business model for Prisa, which he says is the only “left-wing” media group in Spain:

        1. Ignacio

          That was an interesting short note. It is Indeed true that the more conservative branch of MSM in Spain is overcrowded and they would loose inertial consumers that still think there is something progressive at El País while not winning anything from suspicious conservatives who alwayes hated the outlet. My wife, for instance still seeks El País (only to check headlines, not suscriber). I do It from time to time to check what the heck are the PMC and the Woke saying about certain issues.

          1. Nick Corbishley Post author

            Likewise. My wife even buys El País on an occasional Sunday. And like you said, Ignacio, it’s good to know what we’re supposed to be thinking.

  8. Feral Finster

    Cracks in the narrative are beginning to appear!” We’ve seen this movie before. Remember when CBS News last year published the shocking revelation that There Is Corruption! In Ukraine!?!

    This should have been about as remarkable as a news article reminding us that water is in fact, wet, but the PMC affected great outrage and horror, and CBS quickly was forced to publish a sniveling apology, tail between its legs, how nobody could dare question the pristine integrity of the Ukrainian government and its loyal Nazis who so totally aren’t Nazis, no sirree!

    So let’s wait before taking victory lap, what say? I suspect that all that will happen is that Cebrián will get a stern talking-to.

    1. John k

      I’m pretty optimistic. Imo El Pais/sarkozy etc were emboldened by nyt and wapo beginning to leak truth. Seems somebody, or maybe a powerful group, wants to wrap this up quickly, maybe before we get too close to the election, or maybe for the long awaited pivot to China, especially as China’s economy seems to be encountering turbulence just now, though China might welcome a diversion that soaks up unemployed in a crash armament effort while pulling the Taiwan thorn. And I wonder if the us thinks they will build our own chips industry faster than China would if taiwan’s factories are taken out, whether by one side or the other.

      1. Ignacio

        You can bet Cebrián, Sarkozy and others are wanting to play in the safe side of life. That is why they have waited for so long to say things that should have been said from the very beginning. Just in case they remained silent until It became obvious that the offensive has proven to go nowhere.

  9. JonnyJames

    Thanks for this article Nick, it is refreshing.

    Mackinder, Zbig B (and indirectly, classical Realist IR theory) is discussed in the El Pais article. As noted, although it’s not perfect, the frank discussion is jaw-dropping, given recent context.

    Zbig’s now-infamous/famous work, The Grand Chessboard is worth a revisit (1998). To his credit (and our disgust), Brzezinski did foresee and encouraged much of what is going on. He explicitly recommended that Ukraine must be pried away from Russia to deprive Russia of anything approaching great power status. Other IR specialists of the so-called Realist school agree (Kissinger seems to have flip-flopped a bit though.) However, Zbig would be upset if he were alive today: Russia and China have been driven together by reckless (so-called Neocon imperialism, as opposed to classical Realist imperialism) US foreign policy. Another Realist is prof. John Mearsheimer who is clearly not happy with current developments.

    1. some guy

      It is good to see Zbig finally getting his due share of the credit for this whole chain of events.

  10. ChrisRUEcon

    “Even more newsworthy is the fact that José Luis Cebrián [ … ] is sounding the alarm about the dire consequences of the Ukraine proxy war for the EU, as well as the fact that most European politicians don’t seem to care.”

    [Emphasis mine]

    … and those politicians are elected … so one would hope that if voices are rising, and opinions are changing, then the people’s voices will also be heard when elections happen across Europe.

    This is my hope.

  11. John Boom

    My take on all of this is that is has next to nothing to do with Russia or Ukraine.
    USA wants to fight China but has to weaken Russia first with some ancillary benefits to Blackrock the advisers of Neo cons (Nuland etc).
    Australia had better hope that Ru wins, otherwise or maybe anyhow Aust will be the next proxy war against China, (with no hope of winning).

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